Monday, July 20, 2015

They Came In Peace For All Mankind

Karen: I know we've covered it before, but it deserves to be repeated: it's July 20th, which means it's the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, the first time humans ever walked upon the moon. It's a momentous occasion and one that I think has a special resonance for us Bronze Age kids. After 46 years, it still shines as a tremendous example of our potential for greatness as a species. While I marvel at the pictures coming back from Pluto (it's a planet, dammit!), it doesn't come near the excitement of those manned space missions.

I came across the video below featuring Walter Cronkite covering the mission. He seems so inextricably linked to those early missions it's hard to imagine the space age without him. I hope you enjoy it. 

14 comments:

J.A. Morris said...

Hate to correct you Karen, but it's been 46 years, not 26, unless I'm misreading you.

But yes, it was an extremely momentous occasion, I never tire of watching that landing, nor will I ever tire watching Cronkite weep while watching the landing. The landing was indeed a big moment for Bronze Agers. I was too young to live through it, but it was just about impossible to walk through a school or library in the 1970s without seeing photos of Neil Armstrong and/or Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

C.K. Dexter Haven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Jones said...

For us Brits the face of the Space Age and astronomy in general was Patrick Moore who presented 'The Sky At Night' on TV from 1957 till his death in 2012 and he was there presenting the BBC's coverage of the moon landings and he also interviewed Neil Armstrong in 1970 - one of the rare occasions that Armstrong gave an interview to anybody. My mother bought a special edition of LIFE magazine which was entirely dedicated to the moon landings and I must have read that magazine hundreds of times over the years. By coincidence I have a friend who was 46 two days ago - he was born on July 18th 1969 as Apollo was en route to the moon. And I've also been watching the New Horizons Pluto pictures with great interest - but I'm prepared to accept Pluto isn't a planet, just a Kuiper Belt object otherwise there'd be hundreds of planets if you counted all the similar bodies in the Kuiper Belt. I'll be 50 next year and in my lifetime Mankind has been to the moon and sent probes to all the planets, it's a privilege to have lived at this time in history.

SteveDoesComics said...

My main memory of the first moon landing was of our teacher getting us to make a moon lander from grocery boxes. If only NASA had known you can make moon landers from grocery boxes, they could've saved a fortune.

According to the BBC's Genome site, which has all the BBC's radio and TV listings from 1923 onwards, touchdown happened between 8:45 and 9:50 at night, UK time, which means it would have been well after my bedtime, so I didn't get to see the landing as it happened.

I'm also in the, "Pluto is a planet," camp. As far as I'm concerned, if something has moons, it should be classed as a planet.

Redartz said...

Thanks for the video link, Karen! Walter Cronkite was the very definition of a television journalist; I miss him still. e
As for Apollo 11, that date and event will always loom large in my memory. I still recall watching Armstrong's first steps in fuzzy black and white, on my Uncle's tv. Steve- being 9 at the time, my memory may be faulty, but it seems we were watching Armstrong on the ladder late in the evening, local Indiana time.
And yes, the images from Pluto are beautiful. It seems science is experiencing a renaissance in many fields; obviously Astronomy, but Paleontology also - the constant stream of new fossil discoveries is mind-boggling. That was one of the great benefits of the space program: the increased attention to the world of science and the resultant explosion of knowledge.

Edo Bosnar said...

I was just over a year old when it happened, so I obviously have no memory of the actual event. However, I've seen dozens of documentaries, etc. about the moon landing. Some of that footage still sends shivers down my spine, and/or almost makes me choke up. Kind of like the latest Pluto images, in fact (and I'm not as bothered by the poor guy's demotion - it's still out there, and still awesomely cool).

Karen said...

I've fixed the post -obviously a brain fart on my part. I seem to have a lot of them lately..

Always nice to hear the fond memories of my fellow space age kids. At this point, I'm not sure if what I remember is actual or a blending of what I experienced and what I heard/read, but I still feel a warm glow over the first moon landing. I can however distinctly remember later events, like the Apollo-Soyuz link-up, the Viking Mars landing, first shuttle launch, etc. But the early space program has such a mythic feeling now.

Martinex1 said...

I was too young to remember the moon landing, but like others I remember future missions vividly. And photos from the moon seemed ever present. I remember an Apollo 11 patch I had on a jacket; I loved that jacket like it was straight from the mission. And I remember drinking Tang just because the astronauts supposedly did. I played at being an astronaut, just as much as anything else in 2nd grade.

Funny how the space race, space exploration, and astronauts inspired so much modern entertainment from the FF, to Planet of the Apes, to Capricorn 1 and countless others. My dad loved cowboys and I loved astronauts. It was a new era.

Colin Bray said...

If we are talking about new eras, Martinex1, how about a new entry in the perennial 'when does the Silver Age end/Bronze Age begin' debate.

What if it is really the Apollo 11 mission? The Moon landings were a high water mark in so many ways, the climax of a journey that encompassed nearly all of the Silver Age in comics from Kennedy's original announcement to the actual giant leap for mankind.

The shiny scientific energy and optimism not only faded incredibly quickly after Apollo 11 but the Earthrise photo (from the same expedition, I believe) gave rise to so much of the modern environmental movement and an introspective cultural focus back on the planet Earth.

Is that when the sci-fi fanboy comics of the later 50s and 60s from both Marvel and DC truly shifted to a different, more reflective and serious gear? If we bear in mind the creative time lag, the true transition for this would have taken place in early 1970 tracking closely the traditional date for the start of the Bronze Age.

Just a thought...

Humanbelly said...

Hmm-- I wonder if Redartz and I could have been watching on the same stations, as all of ours came from South Bend/Elkhart/Mishawaka (16-WNDU; 22-WSBT; 28-WSJV). The reason I ask (and you're right, the walk itself was well after our bedtimes), is 'cause what I DISTINCTLY remember is that the initial part of that transmission was UPSIDE-DOWN-- and that seemed to be the case on every station for us. I was wondering if it was a regional-feed thing. It did correct before Neil got off the steps, though.

Man, that was such a GREAT thing to be old enough to remember so well.

Space Food Sticks--- those were the foodstuff that we coveted even more than (gaakk) Tang 'round our neighborhood. My Mom even took to giving them to us instead of a sandwich in our lunches. (My Mom had/has a rather embedded easy-way-out streak, mind you--)

HB

Humanbelly said...

As an addendum-- they used to have the capsule itself on display at the Air & Space Museum on the Mall in DC. It was a central display, so you could up very close and look at it, and the most incredibly jarring aspect of it is how. . . well. . . primitive all of the technology and electronics in it seemed to be, even 20 years ago. Rows and rows of simple stemmed toggle switches-- $1.98 at Home Depot; the tiny vacuum-tube monitor screens-- it was honestly unnerving in how quaint it all seemed. "My God", you think, "I can't believe they went out into space in this little jalopy--!"

I was acquainted with John Decker awhile back (fellow that fixed the Hubble when it got tangled up internally during its initial mission), and he agreed to a point, but was also a big advocate for the beauty of design simplicity. A focused mission with all equipment and tools designed towards its specific success. (Although, geeze, who was in charge of keepin' those poor fellows warm during their one chance to have a nap on the moon-?)

HB

Redartz said...

HB- We were probably tuned in to WISH-TV (CBS) or WFBM (NBC) out of Indianapolis. Don't recall specifically the image being upside-down, but certainly remember the "staticky" picture...

There were so many mementos of the Apollo mission; remember the glasses / pitcher set? One can often find these at flea markets even now. I had a plastic model of the LEM, books and the View-Master set. And yes, Space Food Sticks; often in my lunchbox; especially the caramel or peanut butter!

Colin Bray said...

If we are talking about new eras, Martinex1, how about a new entry in the perennial 'when does the Silver Age end/Bronze Age begin' debate.

What if it is really the Apollo 11 mission? The Moon landings were a high water mark in so many ways, the climax of a journey that encompassed nearly all of the Silver Age in comics from Kennedy's original announcement to the actual giant leap for mankind.

The shiny scientific energy and optimism not only faded incredibly quickly after Apollo 11 but the Earthrise photo (from the same expedition, I believe) gave rise to so much of the modern environmental movement and an introspective cultural focus back on the planet Earth.

Is that when the sci-fi fanboy comics of the later 50s and 60s from both Marvel and DC truly shifted to a different, more reflective and serious gear? If we bear in mind the creative time lag, the true transition for this would have taken place in early 1970 tracking closely the traditional date for the start of the Bronze Age.

Just a thought...

Ewan said...

Being born a few years later, I didn't get to see this live, but as a youngster in the 70's I was totally fascinated by all things space. The moon landings seemed like just the start (Skylab was kind of neat too), and I felt like we were going to have a colony on the moon and a manned trip to Mars before I hit adulthood.

Some of that magic carried into the 80's with the Voyager pictures and early Space Shuttle missions, but the space race seemed to die off...sheer magnitude of the technical realities, funding, aftermath of the first Shuttle disaster, all certainly big factors. But it also didn't feel like as a nation this was something we were still as passionate about, and so the Apollo landing always felt like to me this amazing moment and example of how as a country we could come together for something so awe-inspiring and positive (and I always hoped we could somehow rekindle that).

The Pluto flyby has recaptured a little of that magic for me, never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Maybe I'll live to see a Mars landing too.

And I miss Walter Cronkite too.

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